New Delhi, Nov 11 (UNI) India captain Baichung Bhutia and emerging star striker Sunil Chettri inaugurated the fourth Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) 2009 and unveiled its Trophy here today.
The MUPC, conducted by Nike in association with the India Football Federation (AIFF), would see participation of U-15 players and different teams from across the country.
Welcoming the initiative of conducting such a tournament, Alberto Colaco, General Secretary, AIFF said, ''This annual event has gained immence popularity for the last few years and we are sure that the sport at the grassroot level will grow with such tournaments. The initiative not only provides a platform but also shares our vision of elevating the sport in India.'' Speaking on the occasion, Baichung said, ''I have been with the MUPC since Day 1. It's great to see more teams coming to participate. For the U-15 players, MUPC is like a World Cup.'' Adressing the young players eager to participate in the tournament, the captain stressed, ''You guys just need to come and enjoy the game and perform as a team, under your coach direction.
But first you need to try to perform as a team then to perform individually.'' Echoing the same, striker and JCT forward player Sunil said, ''I am actually jealous as I and Baichung never got such opportunity or platform to play. MUPC is a great motivation for all the players.'' ''MUPC is one of the best which has happened to the sport.'' On Indian clubs organising such a big tournament like MUPC, the 32-year-old captain said, ''Yes, we can think of a Indian club organising such big tourneys. But for that, proper academies should be established to bring the talents together.'' He stressed that even though no Indian club has been able to organise big tournaments like Manchester did but the object is being achieved to bring teams across the country and make them compete with each other.
Lastly, the footballers got a chance to rub their shoulders with the star strikers Baichung and Sunil at an exhibition match.
The participating teams include Mohun Bagan AC, Mahindra United, JCT, Pune FC, Viva Kerala, Salgaocar Sports Club, Sporting Club De Goa, Sikkim Football Academy, Silchar Football Academy, Mumbai Sports School Association, Pondicherry Coaching Centre, Uttranchal.
The final matches beginning from December 1-3 will be played in Fatorda, Goa.
UNI PY RAR AS1908